Maybe not what we expect now, but as scenes of Victorian teas go it's basically there. The English have a love of foods, especially at around 4p.m, the time where in winter a family used to close the curtains against the heavy skies and turn their attentions to the fireplace, where tea would brew and they would butter themselves some delicacy despite the rain and wind breaching door, hallway and carpet. Toast, for all the revitalising properties it has early in the morning with raspberry jam or honey, is equally as welcome with Marmite or dripping with butter when coming home after a long, cold day.
The Victorian would obviously slice his white bread and impale the resultant tranche with a brass toasting-fork to be browned before the parlour fire and simply buttered, or, if in a Club, turned into a 'savoury' - the hot and powerful morsels in which the City partook. Ranging from the simple Gentleman's Relish to potted beef or Welsh rabbit, it was undoubtedly a heart-and- stomach warming manner in which to pass an hour or two with port and prodigious amounts of Assam 'strong enough to trot a mouse on.' Where gingerbreads, fruit cakes, devilled hams, Victoria sandwiches, crumpets and the pot or cup dominates, I guide.
- Place 2 slices of white bread side by side in a dish and pour over 175ml red wine. Let them soak for a few minutes.
- Dot the bread with 15g of butter and toast it quickly on both sides.
- Melt another 10g of butter, 125g grated Cheddar, 2tsp English mustard and any leftover wine together
- Once thick, spread this over the toasts and grill quickly to heat and colour the mixture. Serve immediately.
- Sift together 225g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder and a good pinch of salt.
- In a separate bowl, beat an egg with 300ml of milk and 1 tbsp of caster sugar.
- Stir the mix into the flour bit by bit until you get a thick batter.
- Drop spoonfuls of this onto a hot, lightly veg-oiled frying pan (ideally cast iron) Cook until bubbles come through on top, then flip them over and cook for the same time on the other side.
- Keep warm or serve straight off the pan with lots of butter, jam and perfumed tea.